1. Showers are not necessary every day. They are not even necessary every second day. A shower is necessary after about five days of no shower. Disregard this rule if there is any chance in your life for sexy time.
2. Most people in the world are actually good, and not evil like we tend to believe too often. That being said, Americans do believe that hitchhikers want to eat their brains. Fact. But you know, they’ll still give you a granola bar.
3. Granola bars get old FAST.
4. While daily showers may not be a necessity, being a dirty hippie remains disgusting. No matter where you’ve been and where you’re headed, there are always sinks and streams to wash your armpits in. If you can smell yourself, someone else probably could smell you yesterday. And no one wants to pick up a stinky hitchhiking hippie.
5. In the first two weeks in which you stop shampooing your hair, people will ask you if you just went for a swim. You will look gross. Time it well. Once you’ve passed the hump, however, your hair will be healthy, grow faster, and for those of us with pin straight hair, hallelujah! Some texture at last. Most people won’t have a clue your lovely texturized hair is unwashed, unless you proudly exclaim, “I haven’t washed my hair is two months!” …which of course I do.
6. There is a very big difference between a traveller and a nomad. A traveller goes on a trip, whether for a week or a year, but it is a trip. It has an end, and there is a home to return to. A nomad has no home, or rather creates many homes along the road. For us, the only way to live is on the road. We can’t go back.
7. Just because you’re travelling does not mean you will meet more likeminded people than you would working a 9 to 5 job back home. At all.
8. But when you do meet someone special, your bond forms in minutes. It may take time to get to know someone, but you know almost right away whether you have a connection or not. Don’t bother trying to build a connection, it’s an impossibility.
9. Sleeping on gravel without a sleeping mat is quite cozy after the first four days.
10. Crocodiles, alligators, and spiders the size of your phone are fucking cool. Horseflies are not. Horseflies are the god damn devil.
11. No one can teach you the rules of the road. All you can really do is wing it, and learn as you go.
12. Things will get fucked up. And I mean they will get REALLY fucked up. So when the black flies are eating you alive on that desolate stretch of road in Labrador, just remember: this will make an awesome story one day, and the giant welts and itchiness will subside eventually.
13. Bears are terrifying. Bears are even more terrifying when you wake up in your tent in the middle of the night with your boyfriend lying over you holding a knife, and whispering, “Don’t say a word.” Don’t keep the empty pudding containers in the tent.
14. There are little ants in Australia with green bums, and you can eat their bums. They taste like lime.
15. Every country has their own special brand of racism.
16. After travelling for a while, a vacation becomes something much different than what it is for those at home. A vacation is sitting on the couch and having a Netflix marathon. A vacation involves minimal movement. A vacation is boring – sweet glorious boredom. If your vacation includes a bed, and – gasp! – your own room, then you’ve hit the jackpot.
17. It’s all fine and nice to have a light backpack, but you need some sanity items. My bunny hat will never be cut from my bag. Though rarely used, you couldn’t snatch my two sets of poi away if you came at me with a knife.
18. Cameras break. iPods get stolen. Nothing is permanent. Accept the loss, and move on.
19. Plans were made to be broken. Even the super cool plans.
20. It is totally okay to have a massive crying fit in a public place. Kind Peruvians might come over and ask you if you’re lost. Which you kind of are, but that’s not why you’re crying. Sometimes you just need a good cry.
21. The road is lonely. The road is not glamorous. And most people would hate the nomadic life. But for those who know, we know.
22. Hot baths are basically the happiest things that ever were and ever will be.
23. Karma is very real, and sometimes when you spend what little money you have to buy a blind, starving kitten a can of tuna instead of buying yourself breakfast, the next person you meet will feed you.
24. Travelling shows you who your true friends are. If your relationship withstands massive distances and long stretches of time, you can be pretty sure you’ve got yourself some pretty special people. And if they offer to spend a grand to fly your desperate ass back home, you should probably buy them a cupcake.
25. Breaking into your best friend’s house, scaring the shit out of her, and making her think a stranger has broken in is most definitely an acceptable way to say hello after over a year apart.
26. The only rule is there are no rules. And if you find a rule, make sure to break it.